UPDATE: It seems I Like It Like That: Fania Remixed also comes as a double CD with the original (hard-to-find) classics, which makes it even more a must-have compilation!
Ever since the legendary Fania Records was brought back to life in 2006, the label has been issuing a steady flow of reissues and compilations. This year two remarkable releases deserve your special attention.
The first is a spotless selection of Fania tracks by jazz guru and worldwide DJ Gilles Peterson. For the first edition of the Fania DJ Series, the British record collector listened to over 200 albums to select and compile 26 tracks. It's the first time he does a latin compilation, and you can feel he purely selected on the sound and spirit of the songs. So even though there are tracks by famous artists like Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Willie Rosario and more, I didn't recognize many timeless Fania classics. This compilation goes beyond the popular songs you've probably heard already, and takes you into the 42 year long history of a very special record label. The amount of instrumental tracks reflect his unability to understand the Spanish choruses, but also gives the record a focus on dance and percussion. So if you're looking to get to know a great label in a completely different way, this is the CD you want. If you want the familiar classics however, look elsewhere!
Ya Yi Ki - Johnny Colon mp3
Album: Fania DJ Series: Gilles Peterson (Fania Records)
The other album I want to talk about is I Like It Like That, a remix collection on which dance scene remixers are paired with classic Fania artists like Hector Lavoe, Willie Colón and Rubén Blades. It's a shy first step into modern music for the label, and many remixes are only subtly changed compared to the original track. But hey, those songs are legendary for a reason! The two Lavoe tracks are real standouts, not only because of their length (over 10 minutes!!) but mostly because his voice is just so great. "Mi Gente" is remixed (very true to the original) by his own nephew Louie Vega, by the way.
Also great is "I Didn't Want To Have To Do It" by Ralfi Pagan in a 4 Hero remix, who finds a good balance between new and original; and the jazzy rendition of Roberta Roena's "Take Five" by Italian DJ Nicola Conte. But the biggest treat for me was finding Brazilian funksters Bonde do Role on this album: Favela Fania!
The mixes with a more dance/techno feel are often quite boring: Bugz in the Attic, SSH and sadly Gilles Peterson didn't do a very good job. But with a good skip button or a strict iTunes selection you'll be the proud owner of some unique interpretations of Fania classics.
Take Five (Nicola Conte Remix) - Roberto Roena mp3
Album: I Like It Like That - Fania Remixed (Fania Records)